But it didn’t. It happened in the US. So hell, that makes it all ok, right?
For anyone who doesn’t know what I’m going on about, read this, about Oklahoma’s last execution. Basically, on April 29th, a man was legally tortured to death. Clayton Lockett was sentenced to death for shooting a teenager in 1999, and then watching as two accomplacies buried her alive. I want to write that from the beginning, because I want to leave no doubt whatsoever that I believe there is any excuse for such a horrendous crime. I do, however, want to ask a few serious questions of any nation – not just the US, when it enshrines in law the right to punish someone for murder by – well, murdering them.
And yes, I should probably state from the outset that I have a vested interest in this. In November 2007, a friend of mine – probably one of my closest friends at the time – was executed. In Oklahoma. 6 and a half years later, and I’m still hurt, grieving, and angry about the entire situation.
But maybe one thing that it did show me was that there is no-one beyond the reach of mercy and grace and love. My friend, Donnell, would often talk about the crime that brought him to death row. He was heartbroken by it. And yes, he was still a person who had committed murder. None of the remorse in the world could have brought his victim back to life. But in executing him, there was also executed one of the kindest, most gentle and most loving men imaginable. He was a man forced to face up to the darkest and most difficult parts of himself, and he did it with a courage that so many of us lack.
One of the biggest issues with Clayton Lockett’s execution was the fact that Oklahoma was trying out a protocol that had not been tested. Sodium thiopental, the sedative previously used in the three drug coctail that makes up the lethal injection, stopped being produced in 2011 – with the horrific result that states are resorting to other, untested drugs. The drug used in the execution of Clayton Lockett was used once, in Florida in 2013 – at 5 TIMES THE DOSE. Meaning that Oklahoma that day were quite happily planning to make Lockett and Charles Warner, who was scheduled to be exectued after Clayton Lockett, as human guinea pigs.
Yes, their crimes were horrific. I can’t get my head around the idea that we solve it by murdering – in an incredibly horrible way – the perpetrators. It doesn’t work – there is little proof that it acts as a deterrant – is massively racially biased – In Donnell’s case, it has since been agreed that he would likely be alive today had he had the fortune to be born white – and targeted against the poorest, most disadvantaged in society.
I’m not American, and I’m desperate that this doesn’t sound like a slam against the US. But I guess I am desperate that this awful circumstance leads everyone to greater consideration. I wonder if my biggest question is this – how civilised are we, really, when we can so disassociate ourselves from our fellow human beings to allow this to happen?